August Wrap-Up

Ok, so I realise this is super late, but I’ve been so busy and had a lot going on the last couple of weeks – here is my August wrap-up!

I had a pretty good reading month in August, especially considering there was about a week in the middle where I barely read at all, but I managed to get through 10 books. Enjoyed them all, but highlights have to be Red Rising and Country of the Blind.

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Review – Grace & Fury

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi face very different fates: one in the palace, the other on an island prison where women must fight to survive.

Serina has spent her whole life preparing to become a Grace – selected to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining example of the perfect woman.

But her headstrong and rebellious younger sister has a dangerous secret, and one wrong move could cost both sisters everything.

Can Serina fight?
And will Nomi win?

Women had ruled this country. And history had denigrated them. Erased them.

I received this book in the June Fairyloot box, and I’m a little ashamed to admit, but usually when I get a book in a subscription box it goes on my shelf and I don’t ever get round to reading it (the only exception to this so far has been Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody, which was great), and as part of #theunreadshelfproject I’m making a real effort to read the books I already own, instead of constantly buying new ones, and actually reading some of my Fairyloot books has been a part of that.

Sadly, it hasn’t actually stopped me buying copious amounts of new books, but never mind…

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Review – Renegades

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

“As long as there are superheroes, there will be people who rely on them far too much. I think humanity would be better off if there were no prodigies at all.”

Nova is an Anarchist – a girl on a mission for vengeance after the heroes sworn to protect her family failed her.
Adrian is a Renegade – a boy with extraordinary abilities who believes in justice, and in Nova.

They should be sworn enemies, but Nova finds herself torn between Adrian and the Renegades, and a villain that could destroy them both.

There are many dangerous people in this world, but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.

This had a lot of hype when it was first released, and I avoided it for a while – but I fell in love with the UK paperback cover and picked it up a while ago, then of course I let it sit on my shelves for ages before actually getting round to reading it, but I’m really glad I finally did!

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Review – To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.
There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there.
Buried deep and bloody.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and revered across the sea until she is cursed into humanity by the ruthless Sea Queen. Now Lira must deliver the heart of the infamous siren killer or remain a human forever.

Prince Elian is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world, and captain to a deadly crew of siren hunters. When he rescues a drowning woman from the ocean, she promises to help him destroy sirenkind for good. But he has no way of knowing whether he can trust her…

Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

I was initially a bit sceptical when I picked this up – I’ve had mixed feelings about retellings and The Little Mermaid was never one of my favourites, but I’d seen enough people rave about To Kill A Kingdom that I decided to give it a try.

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Review – The Bone Season

The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Even a dreamer can start a revolution.
Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London.
Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds.
For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing…

Knowledge is dangerous. Once you know something, you can’t get rid of it. You have to carry it. Always.

This had been sat on my shelf for well over a year when I finally picked it up after seeing Samantha Shannon twice in two weeks – she is so lovely and I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t actually read the book when she signed it for me…so I jumped straight in on the train home from meeting number 2!

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Review – Quite Ugly One Morning

Quite Ugly One Morning – Christopher Brookmyre

Yeah, yeah, the usual. A crime. A corpse. A killer. Heard it.
Except this stiff happens to be a Ponsonby, scion of a venerable Edinburgh medical clan, and the manner of his death speaks of unspeakable things.
Why is the body displayed like a slice of beef?
How come his hands are digitally challenged?
And if it’s not the corpse, what is that awful smell?

Parlabane found the word ‘pro-active’ enormously useful, as it immediately exposed the speaker as an irredeemable arsehole, whatever previous impression might have been given.

Ok, so I mostly read Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and most of that is YA or NA – but I do also enjoy a good dose of Crime/Thriller every now and again, I find it works almost like a palette cleanser – a good murder to blow away the stories of fae and wizards and magic.

I’ve read several books by Christopher Brookmyre and have always enjoyed them – especially his standalones Bedlam, Pandaemonium, A Tale Etched In Blood And Hard Black Pencil and the Jasmine Sharp series – however I never got around to reading the Jack Parlabane series (despite picking up most of them at charity shops…), but as Parlabane is his most famous character I figured I had to give him a go.

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Review – Red Rising

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

The Earth is dying. Darrow is a Red, a miner in the interior of Mars. His mission is to extract enough precious elements to one day tame the surface of the planet and allow humans to live on it.
The Reds are humanity’s last hope.

Or so it appears, until the day Darrow discovers it’s all a lie. That Mars has been habitable – and inhabited – for generations, by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. A class of people who look down at Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

Until the day Darrow, with the help of a mysterious group of rebels, disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.
But command school is a battlefield – and Darrow isn’t the only student with an agenda.

I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.

I’d heard a lot about the Red Rising series on bookstagram, and it had always interested me – I think I picked the book up at Christmas last year, but just never got around to reading it. Then a couple of months ago, I joined a local gym as part of my rehab from a knee injury, and quickly decided that listening to music while working out wasn’t for me – so I decided to give audiobooks a go. This worked very well, as not only did it give me motivation to actually go to the gym so I could continue the story, it also meant I wasn’t concentrating on how long I’d been on the treadmill for (and sometimes I even stayed on longer to finish a chapter!)

Having just finished the Illuminae Files (which were awesome, and I’ll probably do a post about them later) I was a little worried about going back to a ‘traditional’ audiobook – ie with only one narrator – but seeing as I wasn’t any closer to picking up my physical copy of Red Rising I thought I’d try listening to it instead.

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Review – Traitor’s Blade

Traitor’s Blade – Sebastien de Castell

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded and Falcio Val Mond and fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse – their employer could be laying dead on the floor while the three of them are forced to watch as the killer plants evidence framing them for the murder. Oh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happening…

A royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world and it could mean the ruin of everything Falcio, Kest and Brasti have fought for. If the trio want to unwind the conspiracy, save the innocents and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.

“That’s what being free means – not the right to do whatever you want, but the right to take a stand and say what you’ll die for.”

I first came across Sebastien de Castell last year, when I picked up another one of his books – Spellslinger – and was immediately drawn to his writing style, which is funny, eloquent and with just the right amount of sass. So when I came across Traitor’s Blade, which is kind of a Three Musketeers retelling, I knew I had to give it a go.

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An Audience with Sabaa Tahir and Samantha Shannon

Having only just returned home after YALC, last week I found myself back on a train on the way to London. This time it was only a flying visit to the capital to see Sabaa Tahir at Waterstones Picadilly, and then I had to get back home as I had a work event the following morning (who needs sleep, right?)

I had been intending on rereading An Ember In The Ashes and A Torch Against The Night before the release of A Reaper At The Gates, but time got IMG_20180626_201527_962away from me, and although I picked up Reaper on release day, I had only just finished Ember and just about managed to squeeze Torch in before YALC.

This second trip came around really quickly (took me very much by surprise!) and all of a sudden I was in a bit of a race against time to finish Reaper before I went to see Sabaa. I really wanted to finish it before the event, just in case of spoilers. Now, apart from the panels I’d been to at YALC, I’ve never been to an author event before, and while I was sure there wouldn’t be spoilers revealed for Reaper, I didn’t want to take the chance! However, things kinda fell into place for me – I ended up having a couple of days off work due to some dental issues, which sucked, buuutt it did give me a chance to do some reading. I flew through the first three parts of Reaper, then reality hit and I had to go back to work, so I ended up finishing it on the train – but it was totally worth it!

OK, so first things first, as I said the only things like this that I have been to before was a couple of weeks ago at YALC, where I also saw Samantha Shannon chair the ‘Amongst the Stars’ panel. I attended a couple of panels over the YALC weekend, but enjoyed this one the most (and not just beca20180807_191834use Jason Momoa randomly wandered through!). I am in no way an expert about these sort of things, but I thought Samantha was by far the best moderator of the panels I saw, and she didn’t disappoint again. She really seems to have researched the authors and books that she is there to talk about, and especially in this case, she genuinely seemed to be a fan of the Ember series (unlike some panels/moderators at YALC, who seemed more interested in talking about their own books than the people they were supposed to be interviewing). I managed to catch her for a little chat afterwards and she was so lovely, she signed my copy of The Bone Season and we talked about moderators and interviews, and the best way to chair a panel.

The main event! Sabaa Tahir is just as wonderful in real life as she is on Instagram. Funny, articulate and thought-provoking, she gave great answers to the questions from Samantha and various audience members, and had us all laughing most of the way through. It was so interesting to hear more about her writing and editing processes, and how she motivates herself to hit her targets. For me the most interesting part was her description of how she went about creating the world of Ember – the Empire – and the effort she puts into naming her characters (the revelation that one of the characters in Reaper was referred to as ‘Jimmy’ for most of the editing and reviewing until she found the perfect name was probably my favourite tidbit from the evening – the confession that the first draft of Reaper contained a dragon was not – I have to say good work Sabaa’s editors!)

Of course after the panel we were able to get our books signed, and Sabaa was again so lovely, taking the time to have a personal conversation with everyone, and takin20180807_210345(0)g pictures with those who wanted them. It was another long queue, but having the opportunity to chat to fellow bibliophiles while we were waiting just helped to enforce the conviction that the bookish community is one of the most awesome and friendliest out there. I also met a couple of girls I recognised from Bookstagram (thepinkbibliophile and the_queen_of_books24) – who were so lovely even though I was super awkward and nervous about introducing myself.

Had to rush away after getting my books signed in order to catch my train home, and still didn’t get back until 1 in the morning (getting up at 07:30 was particularly painful) and then I had an allergic reaction to something I came into contact with at my work event (I should really learn my lesson about volunteering for work stuff) hence why this is a little later than I wanted it to be. Still not really sure about how this whole blog thing works, so if anyone comes across this and has any tips – please send them my way!

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Here we go

So, I thought I’d start a blog…

I’ve been a reader all my life, and in the last year have discovered the wonderful worlds of Bookstagram, Booktube and Bookish blogs – and I figured why not give it a go?!

Now, I am historically bad at keeping to things like this, so posting will mostly likely be very sporadic, and probably not of very good quality, but we’ll see if I can actually continue something for once in my life!

Please bare with me while I work out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing…